Yulgok Yi I > Ojukheon

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Yulgok Yi I

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(Yi I; December 26, 1536 - January 16, 1584; by lunar calendar)

A government official and neo-confusian of Joseon Dynasty.

Yulgok Yi I was born in 1536 as a third son of Shin Saimdang at her family house called Ojukheon, located in the Jukheon-dong, Ganreung-bu, Gangwon province.

She gave birth to him at the annex of her parent’s house called Ojukheon. Later the birth place room was named ‘Mongnyongsil(meaning the room of the dragon dream)’ because she read the sign of pregnancy for the first time by the dream of black dragon ascending from the ocean. She originally named him ‘Hyunryong(meaning revealed dragon)’ and changed to ‘Yi’ later.

Yulgok grew up with the head family in Paju, Gyeonggi-do.

He passed the government literary examination in 1564 (19th year of King Myeong-jong), and served as Yejo Jwarang(Minister of Rites). He steadily pursued his study even when he is in the office while corresponding with scholars like Yi Hwang, Jo Sik, Seong Hon, Jeong Cheol, and also participated in the compilation of Myeong-jong Silok (record of King Myeong-jong).

Yulgok criticized empty formalities and vanity. Although he had an honest attitude basing earthing on the true nature of things, some aspects of it was difficult to be honored in the society where hypocrisy and pretensions were imposed in the name of ethics and manner.

However, King Seon-jo was greatly fascinated by his attitude of judging things without any self-interest, and often called him for advice.

In addition, Yi I earned hostility from Dong-in political party(the party of Southerners) when he advised King Seon-jo to breed 100,000 soldiers to be prepared for the future. He claimed that the Japan’s Sengoku period will soon be over, and that Japan will invade Ming or Joseon to alleviate the internal conflict or to shift domestic interest to other places.

To prepare for this Japanese provocation, he proposed to foster 100,000 soldiers. However Dong-in Party regarded his proposal as an attempt to dazzle the king, and even Seo-in Party considered it as false assertion and over imagination.

With the full confidence of King Seon-jo, Yi I was appointed as Minister of Personnel in 1582, and repressed a Jurchen revolt as the Minister of Military Affairs. He became Councellor of the Right after successively filled the Chancellor position of Royal College of Literature. The following year, he tried to mediate the party strife, but he did not have enough opportunity to follow his experience and belief because of faced obstacles like impeachment by opposite party and becoming Councellor of Royal College of Literature again.

Although he did belong to Seo-in Party, he attempted to mediate the party strife between Dong-in and Seo-in. However, the attempt was not very successful and he became the target of Dong-in Party.

Exhausted from the focused impeachment of Dong-in Party, Yi I withdrew from all the government position, and receded due to illness without having to resolve the desire for national salvation.

He moved to Hanseong from Yulgok-town, Paju, Gyeongi-do after realizing that convalescing could no longer help his health. In the early morning of January 16, 1584(19th year of King Seon-jo), He died at the age of 49 at his house in Daesa-dong, Hanseong-bu.

The property he left behind was books packed his study and few flints.

He was buried at the family burial ground in Jawoon Mountain, Dongmun-ri, Beobwon-eup, Paju-si, Gyeonggi Province. During the Japanese Invasion of Korea, his wife No of Goksan was killed by Japanese army, and buried behind the Tomb of Yulgok.
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